Decorating to create a meaningful home.
Some of my favorite items I decorate my house with are new, trendy and colorful. These items update my surroundings to keep it looking fresh, which I like to see. But it is not the only type of decor I like to have in my house. I like another type even more.
On a deeper more meaningful level. The decor that truly makes me smile are the pieces I have in my home that have a story behind them or there is a very fond memory associated with them.
Like the brass turtle who happily moves between my living room and foyer depending on the season. Or the library drawers I chalk painted and are now in my bedroom.
Last week when I was being too lazy to paint the inside of the party closet I told you I was going to do, I decided to go to a local thrift shop instead that is only open on Friday’s between 1:00 – 4:00.
There is always a long line outside the store waiting to get in as they have new stock every week for thrifters to find treasure or whatever it is they are in search of.
Once I got in, I wasn’t not looking for anything in particular and was just browsing when I spotted a shelf filled with these glass insulators.
Seeing them stopped me in my tracks and fond childhood memories came flooding back. I have not seen a glass insulator in a long time.
I picked one up to hold it in my hand and smiled when I remembered the adventures my siblings and I had when we went to visit our maternal grandmother in the coal mining region of Pennsylvania.
My mom and aunt would take my cousins, siblings and I to go huckleberry picking along an abandoned train line that was overgrown and dense with bushes and weeds, but filled with berries. We would collect them by the bucket-full to take back to our grandmother who would then bake something delish with them.
On these berry picking adventures, my aunt and mom really used berry picking as an excuse, as the real reason they took us out along the old train line was to find relics from their past and green glass insulators or any insulator that may have fallen from the old telephone poles.
They made sure to tell us kids to keep our eyes open for them as we went from bush to bush picking berries since the era the train line was used mostly had green glass insulators on the telephone poles that ran along the tracks.
Where the train line ran was close to where they spent their summers with their grandmother as children back in the 1930’s in a town that was no longer there. The town and street where the house stood was long gone and forgotten, just an overgrown wilderness and the abandoned train line left.
They enjoyed searching for pieces of their past and on one trip actually found the front steps to their grandmother’s home where my mom was born under lots of decay and overgrowth.
I remember how excited they were to find them. If cell phones were a thing in the late 60’s and 70’s I am sure they would have been taking selfie’s of themselves sitting on the decaying steps with big smiles on their faces.
Both my mom and aunt were into decorating and at the time glass insulators were a hot collectible, especially the green ones. Finding one along the train line was like finding gold.
Insulator collecting really started getting popular in the 1960s, when I was a kid as more and more utility and electric power companies started running their wires underground. The old glass insulators couldn’t be used anymore so they ended up being discarded or simply fell off and were left on the ground for treasure hunters to find. 🙂
What were glass insulators used for?
Insulators are the glass or porcelain domes you see on the tops and cross-arms of telephone poles. Their purpose is to insulate the electrical wires they carry, so that electricity (or telephone calls) don’t leak into the pole and into the earth.
Decorative Uses For Glass Insulators
As with anything collectible there are always creative ways to use and or display them.
I, of course did not leave the thrift store empty handed. How could I leave behind something that brought a huge smile to my face and such fond memories. I bought 3 of the glass insulators. for $5 a piece. One for me and one to give each of my sisters.
I placed one on a stack of books on my coffee table. It is a clear glass insulator manufactured by Hemmingway. A perfect place for something that has a story behind it that can spark a conversation when we have friends and guests at the house.
Vintage glass insulators can also make a nice paperweight for a desk, but look what else they can become….
If you have a few DIY skills, you can make pendant lights out of them.
When I went in search to find more information about glass insulators I found a few light fixtures inspired by the vintage glass insulators. Isn’t this light fixture unique?
You can even buy insulators online… like the 1930 Beehive Aqua glass trio being sold over at One Kings Lane.
Where Can I Get Insulators?
If you don’t mind hiking and live near old train tracks, chances are you may find insulators there, free for the taking. Look for old downed poles; especially in areas where brand new poles have just gone up. If it is an active train line though, be careful.
You can also get glass insulators at flea markets, auctions, garage sales, antique and thrift stores.
Other Decorative Items I Have With a Story Behind Them
When I talk about a story behind a piece of furniture or decorative item, these are not just hand-me-downs from family that we find a use for, but the more interesting pieces that as they came into your home, came with a fun or interesting story behind them. In my home I have a few…
Ed’s parent’s owned a knitting shop in Baltimore and when they first set up shop the library drawers were left by the previous shop owner. Years later, when they closed the store, the library drawers went to a packed storage room in their house.
After Ed’s dad passed away and we were helping his mom sell and pack up their house we unearthed the library drawers. His mom didn’t want them which is how they became a part of my house.
Brass Turtle Matchstick Holder
This little trinket was always on the coffee table in my parent’s home. It was one of only a few decorative accessories that made it through my mom’s decorating changes and styles through the years. When my parent’s passed away it was a tough call which one of my siblings and I would get the turtle. My sister’s decided since I liked decorating so much like my mom did, I should get the turtle.
Mantel With No Fireplace
The freestanding mantel that was against the wall in the dining room of my previous house and now is in my bedroom was from Ed’s father’s boyhood home. It was the only thing his father could get after his parent’s passed away as there was a problem with caregivers of his mom taking everything in the house.
When he found out and all that was left was the mantel, he literally ripped the mantel from the wall and carried it out of the house as it meant so much to him. During the depression when there was no money for Christmas presents. His parents would hide an orange behind the mantel for him to find. There is a little ledge behind the firebox opening on the left hand side just large enough to hold something small.
And now I have a glass insulator to add to my list…with a story behind it.
Do you have decor or furnishings in your home with a fun or interesting story behind it?